“Everything Man sees he takes for a toy.
Thus is he always, forever a boy.”
The Miniaturist ~ Jessie Burton
Before anything else, let me just say thank you to BookOwly for picking me to send nothing less than a hardcover edition of this book – which has one of the loveliest covers from last year. Her blog is also the perfect haven to get lost in all things bookish, do pop over when you have the chance.
So let me just say that The Miniaturist was to be my little treat. I let it sit on my bookshelf for months, saving it up for the last week of 2015 with an aim to start off the new year with a brilliant book. What else would you expect from one that was the centre of a publishing war, with agencies fighting over its rights at the London Book Fair?
In 17th century Amsterdam, eighteen-year-old Petronella is married off to an older merchant in hopes that she would be entering a better, more prosperous life. She has everything now that she could only dream of before, a lavish home and a respected and successful husband. Then her husband gifts her a Doll’s House as a wedding present and things begin to get weird from that point on. She appoints a Miniaturist to supply her with decorations for her new prized possession and she begins to receive pieces that she had not ordered for. Her husband clearly has a secret and her sister-in-law doesn’t seem to be too happy with her arrival.
I will say that the first half of the book was typical of any historical novel and it failed to interest me as much as I wished it would. By the second half, however, the story took turns I hadn’t anticipated. There are some aspects of the basic plot – for instance, Petronella’s transformation from a country simpleton to a smart and enterprising businesswoman or her sudden affection towards an alienated husband – that seem implausible. However, if you don’t let them cloud your reading too much, there is no reason why you wouldn’t enjoy the book.
Also, for anyone who is planning on reading the book in the future; I suggest you re-read the opening chapter after completing the novel. That was, for me, a little capsule of writing ingenuity.
Why you should read it:
- For a peek into 17th century Amsterdam
- For its consistent air of mystery, bordering on comfortable fantasy
- If Historical Fiction is your comfort read
Why you shouldn’t read it:
- If implausibility in plot bothers you and throws off your ability to enjoy a book
- There were several key issues that were not satisfactorily explored